In her role as Global Sustainability Director, Paloma’s focus is on sustainability – from how we grow our ingredients and make our foods, to how we get them to your table. Here she talks about Kellogg’s on-going journey to support farmers and the environment.
What’s top of mind for you when it comes to sustainability?
PALOMA: The most obvious thing is the increase of nearly two billion people in the world over the next thirty years, as well as the resources that will be required for companies like Kellogg to help feed everyone. This demographic shift will put a lot of pressure on the natural resources we take for granted today. Plus, we’ll have more people living in tighter urban spaces, and not always close to the source of their foods. Another big area of concern is the significant greenhouse emissions associated with agriculture today and its impact on climate change, as well as the impacts that climate change are likely to have in agriculture and farmers’ livelihoods over the next few decades. This is why we are focusing so much of our work now on sustainable agriculture and climate change adaptation.
What do consumers expect when it comes to sustainability?
PALOMA: What we're hearing is that where and how foods are grown is very important to them – and that’s also important to us. People increasingly want to know the story of the foods they buy, where they come from and how they’re grown. Technology is making the transfer of information and storytelling easier every day – this kind of work is not new to us. Recognizing farmers’ work and investing in the environment are things our founder, W.K. Kellogg, was already doing a hundred years ago. So we’re going back to our origins, further engaging with farmers and partners on the ground regarding how our ingredients are grown, and the care that goes into making our foods.
What are some of the challenges Kellogg faces?
PALOMA: It's clear that greenhouse emissions, climate change and water considerations related to agriculture are some of the most important challenges facing food companies today. Also, soil health is very important – ensuring nutrients are kept in the fields through best practices in sustainable agriculture. We must continue to partner with our suppliers and growers to ensure that ingredients continue to be grown sustainably today and in the future as we approach the nine billion global population mark.
You work closely with smallholder farms, right?
PALOMA: We buy our grains primarily from suppliers, millers and cooperatives who typically buy from family-owned farms across the world. We are currently increasing the number of farmers we support directly or through our suppliers and partners on the ground. A lot of it has to do with training best practices in sustainable agriculture, including water management, climate change adaptation and soil testing. Smallholder farmers are generally farming less than five acres of land. While that description doesn’t fit many of the farmers in North America, we do have suppliers working with smallholder growers in other regions of the world. It’s very important to be supportive of farmers, in particular smallholders and women farmers, so they can also nurture their families as well.
What else is Kellogg’s doing to help the environment?
PALOMA: We recently made public our 2020 sustainability commitments that set new goals for the ongoing natural resource conservation work – mostly in our facilities, but also adding new commitments on responsible sourcing and sustainable agriculture for key ingredients and committing to support 15,000 smallholders by 2020. With this focus, we are putting greater emphasis on water management, greenhouse emissions and soil health with the help of our partners and suppliers on the ground. We are also working on delivering on our new commitments on climate change with the help of organizations like BICEP.
It's a journey. We still have so much work to do but we're excited. We believe it's the right path, and we are hearing from consumers that this is very important to them. They want to know more, so we are listening and working hard to deliver on our commitments. That’s what our team does every day.